Bill Clinton Gives First of Lecture Series at Georgetown

(bell ringing) – [Presenter] Please welcome to the stage John J. DeGioia, President of Georgetown University (audience clapping) and President Bill Clinton, founder of Clinton Foundation and 42nd President of the United States (audience cheering) (DeGioia clapping) – Good morning It’s my pleasure and privilege to welcome you here today for the inaugural lecture in a new series, The Clinton Lectures at Georgetown This marks the beginning of a journey we will take together over the course of the coming years to learn from one of the most accomplished global leaders of our time and someone we’re proud to call a son of Georgetown (audience applauding) President Clinton it’s an honor to welcome you back to the Hilltop and we’re deeply grateful for your sustained commitment to Georgetown, for all you’ve contributed to our community throughout the decades, and of course for the extraordinary impact that you have had throughout our nation and our world I wish to welcome our colleagues here from the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative and I wish to welcome everyone watching on our webcast, especially our friends at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service After President Clinton delivers his lecture, he will take questions from both our students here at Georgetown as well as students from the Clinton school Clara Gustafson, a senior in our School of Foreign Service and our past president of the Georgetown University Student Association will join the President on stage to ask him your questions This is an historic day on our campus We celebrate the inaugural lecture in a series that we believe will have a deep and meaningful impact, not just within our University community, but throughout the Academy and the world of policy, politics, and global affairs We’re privileged here to call one of the greatest public servants and political practitioners of our time, a member of the Georgetown family From his days as an International Affairs major in the School of Foreign Service, through his years as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford and a law student at Yale, to his tenure as Governor of Arkansas, to his eight years in the White House, and his extraordinary post-presidency and work through the Clinton Global Initiative, President Clinton has demonstrated an unmatched political mind and ability to bring people together to forge real tangible change and to discern with extraordinary clarity lasting solutions to our most pressing needs For example, during his presidency, he helped to reform the welfare system, strengthen environmental regulations, and turned a massive federal budget deficit into a surplus He also helped to expand international trade, intervened to end ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, and to promote a framework for peace in Northern Ireland In more recent years through the innovative model of the Clinton Global Initiative, he has brought together more than 150 heads of state, 20 Nobel prize laureates, and hundreds of leaders from multiple sectors to address some of our worlds greatest challenges To date, the Clinton Global Initiative members have made more than 2300 commitments which have improved the lives of more than 400 million people in more than 180 countries President Clinton represents the very best of our tradition at Georgetown, a tradition that is guided by our Catholic and Jesuit identity and that calls us to seek deeper understanding of ourselves and our world and to use that knowledge for the betterment of humankind One of the great forums for this work is a lecture series such as this one In these forums, we look to eminent leaders thinkers to distill their experiences and to share with us their insights, lessons learned and vision for the future President Clinton himself offered such

a series of lectures here once before in 1991, as then Governor of Arkansas and as a candidate for President, he presented three new covenant speeches to students in Gaston Hall on responsibility in rebuilding the American community, on economic change and on American security He’s also returned here many more times throughout his presidency and post-presidency speaking to our community about such topics as the responsibility of citizenship and the Clinton-Gore economics of the 1990s Through the series we launch today, President Clinton will continue the conversation he’s had with us throughout the decades and will also continue the tradition of so many iconic members of our community who have shared the wisdom of their careers and their lives through defining courses and lectures President Clinton has recalled such icons from his time as a student here: Carol Quigley and his lectures on public authority, Father Joseph Sebes and his classes on world cultures, and Ulrich Allers on the history of political thought In fact it was Carol Quigley who coined the concept, future preference, the act of sacrificing the present for the future President Clinton called upon this idea in his acceptance speech for the Democratic nomination and it’s an idea that would serve as a guiding theme throughout his career In 1993, he addressed members of the diplomatic corps from the steps of Old North, explaining that Professor Quigley taught him, quote, “That the future can be better than the present “and that each of us has a personal, “moral responsibility to make it so.” President Clinton has lived these words throughout his career and he joins us today coming full circle from his days as a student to begin a series that continues this tradition of great lectures within our community We’re deeply honored by his presence here today and by his continued commitment to Georgetown, to our nation and to our global family Ladies and gentlemen, it’s my pleasure and privilege to introduce to you President Bill Clinton (audience applauding) It’s all yours – Thank you very much, thank you Thank you Thank you very much Thank you Thank you very much, President DeGioia Thank you for the walk down memory lane that you gave me I want to thank in advance Clara Gustafson for presenting your questions I told her she could ask whatever she wanted I often say the great thing about being a former president is you can say whatever you please, (audience laughing) and sad thing is, nobody has to care anymore (audience laughing) I want to thank my friends who are here, my Georgetown classmates and members of my administration, people I have known for many years, sometimes in both categories I am delighted to be back here The speeches I gave at Georgetown in late 1991, setting the stage for my presidential campaign and also for actually what I would do if I got elected, were very important, not only to shape the campaign, but for me They forced all of us who were trying to win that election to think about where we were, where we wanted to go, how we propose to get there I thought it might be helpful to the students here in this talk It’s mainly directly to you I understand some of you showed up at 4:30 to make sure you got a seat and I hope you didn’t also get pneumonia But (audience laughing) I’m honored that you took trouble to come You can see that I have prepared this No one has written this for me I have thought a lot about this and what I would like to do is to talk about organizing a life for service and the public good, whether as an elected official,

a career public servant, or someone in private life who wants to do public good as a private citizen I have given a lot of thought to this and I’ve had a lot of time to do it In just a few days I’ll be coming back to Georgetown for my 45th reunion Those 45 years pass quickly I am grateful that a whole set of chance circumstances brought me here today I only applied to one college when I was in high school I knew I wanted to come here (chuckles) and I wasn’t accepted until June (audience laughing) That’s not the June That’s the June before the (audience laughing) And (chuckles) I think when I showed up As a matter of fact, the first Jesuit I met said, “What does a Southern Baptist from Arkansas “with no foreign language except Latin “doing in this school of foreign service?” And I said, “Father, “we’ll just have to figure it out as we go along.” (audience laughing) I knew why I wanted to come here When I was 16, and I’ll say more about this later, I literately made a decision that although there was no basis based on my family or circumstances to think I’ll succeed, that I wanted to go into politics if I could and the typical route to that when I was a young man was to go to the state university, make all the friends you could, and then look for your chance I thought it was more important to be well prepared and I felt the world was getting smaller and that I needed to understand things things that I could never learn if I never left the borders of my state I had come to Washington in the summer of 1963 I was with the American Legion Program Boys Nation and I wanted to come back in the School of Foreign Service It had the reputation of being the best and also most cosmopolitan undergraduate program in the city, and so I just applied and I waited and waited and (chuckles) waited, and waited, (audience laughing) and they let me in I’m very glad they did and I’m glad I came After I left Georgetown, I spent five more years, sort of preparing to live my life I went to Oxford as President DeGioia said and then I came back to law school at Yale and that’s where I met Hillary and then I went home and briefly taught in the Arkansas Law School and started my political career With the interruption of two losses and campaigns, I was involved in politics for 27 years and then after I left, I set up the Clinton Foundation and I’ve done that since and that was interesting to me because Hillary was the person in our family who was always involved in foundation activities, in doing public good as a private citizen, working in the legal clinic when we were at Yale, setting up the first legal clinic we ever had in the Northwest part of our state when we came home to Arkansas, organizing a group called The Arkansas Advocates for Families and Children which is still is doing well today in our state which was, when we came home, 49th in per capita income, taking the Children’s Hospital to one of the 10 biggest children’s hospitals in the country She lived this stuff and she was on all kinds of other boards When I was President, she got me to start meeting with civil society leaders as I travel to countries around the world, not just to meet with the leaders and the leaders of the political opposition, but the non-government organization leaders I did it in India, in Turkey, and various African countries and in Latin America This was really her life and it was one I had never imagined living I’ll never forget sometime in the first year after I left the White House, I got up in the morning and I was shaving and I looked in the mirror and I said,

“My God, I have become an NGO.” (audience laughing) (chuckles) So anyway, I say that because I’ve had the opportunity to see from the grassroots up how politics works through dramatic changes in our country’s life The year I graduated from Georgetown, 1968, was probably the most tumultuous year since the end of World War II, except for 2001 in 9/11, perhaps even more than the tumult that occurred in the aftermath of the financial crisis Then I’ve had the opportunity to start and attempt to build a non-government organization with a very specific focus who works in more than 100 countries around the world So this whole thing is very, I mean, extremely interesting to me, and especially these last 12 years, I’ve really had a good time People always ask me, “Don’t you miss being President?,” and I tell the truth Once in a while, I do Once in a while, when there’s some problem that I think I know a lot about or some dilemma that I feel particularly well-suited to solve, I think I kinda like to do that But I think it is foolish, and I hope all of you will remember this, it is foolish to spend one day of your life wishing you could do anything you can no longer do Our days are limited Like I said, these 45 years passed quickly So it’s always best to focus on what’s at hand, and what you can do, and to imagine, and sometimes reimagine the task that you’re involved with I really had a great time doing this, but I realize I am part of something much bigger One of the great good news stories of the turn-of-the-century in the early 21st century is the explosion of the non-governmental movement The United States has about a million foundations of various sizes, down to community foundations up to The Gates foundation, which is not only the wealthiest, but arguably the best They do wonderful work That doesn’t count the 355,000 religious institutions all across our country of all different faiths that try to do public good as a part of their mission Half of those foundations have been established since 1995 and you see it in India Half a million active NGOs based in India and there are a lot more registered that may or may not be activated, I think depending on the financial needs of the people who registered China has about a quarter of a million registered and probably at least that many more not registered for fear of political reprisals in one kind or another Russia used to have 150,000, but Mister Putin seems to think they’re a threat, and in some ways they are, ways that by and large are quite positive I remember thinking about the freedom component of the NGO movement when (chuckles) there was a hilarious cartoon that appeared in many newspapers in America at the end of middle of my second term when I was in a long-running battle with the Republicans special counsel, Kenneth Starr So in this cartoon, I’m talking to the president of China, Jiang Zemin, and I said, “You know, you ought to allow more political liberty “In our country these people you keep putting in jail, “they’d be out there speaking on the street corner.” He said, “Yeah, and in out country, “Kenneth Starr would be in jail making tennis shoes.” (audience laughing) (chuckles) That was the (chuckles) cartoon So (chuckles) it was really funny (audience laughing) It made me reconsider my whole position on liberty But anyway, no The point I’m trying to make is this NGO movement has also been a thorn in the side of governments and their like anybody else They’re not always right, but they basically have pushed the envelope of liberty and political responsiveness

in a way that I think is very positive So now having had the benefit of about 40 years of experience in politics and in NGOs, I have reached a firm conclusion that 21st century citizenship requires every thoughtful person to try to do some public good even if they are in private life When we all came here, almost half century ago now, the definition of good citizenship was pretty much something like this You should stay in school as long as you can and do as well as you can, and when you get out, you need to go to work If you have a student loan, you should repay it You should try to do a good job at whatever your work is and if you start a family, you should try to do a good job of that because raising children is society’s most important work You should pay your taxes and otherwise obey the law and be informed enough to cast an intelligent vote at election time Now even then they were lots of people involved in public service as private citizens There was the local United Way, that people volunteering in their schools There was wealthy people would give money to art institutions and things like that, but nothing like today It was viewed as a nice thing, but not the imperative of every citizen Today with the explosion of Internet giving, of cell phone giving through text, the tsunami was the first great international disaster where the United States gave a billion dollars and the median contribution was $56 cause half the people gave over the Internet In Haiti after the earthquake, the American people gave $1 billion The median contribution was $26 because so many people texted Haiti and then a number for the Red Cross, or the Clinton-Bush Haiti fund, or any number of other things The empowerment of technology has also imposed more possibilities and more responsibilities So I have reached the conclusion that whatever your politics and whatever you do with your life, 21st-century citizenship requires us to add to that litany that I brought with me in my head to Georgetown, some way of doing public good as a private citizen, around the corner or around the world, in office or out And so what I wanted to do with this series of talks of which I think there will be four is to talk about how to compose and live a life where service is important I think that it is so important because the world is so interdependent It is so full of opportunities Did you see the other day that two more planets sighted a constellation far outside our solar system, appear to be far enough away from their sun, dense enough to support life? I’d love to be your age just to figure out if I could live long enough to find out If we are in the universe alone I almost give up being president to take my chances on one again just to find out (audience laughing) We have constant new discoveries in particle physics thanks to the superconducting supercollider in CERN in Switzerland, which should’ve been in Texas but I lost it as part of the economic agreement that brought the economy back in 1993 The human genome discoveries and applications are already stunning I was at St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis, the biggest Children’s Cancer Center in the country where they open source all their developments as soon as they have been They send them to every cancer hospital in the world on every continent and they had just discovered because

of their ability to do genomic testing the answer to a terrible riddle There was a relatively rare but extremely dangerous form of childhood brain cancer for which there was a drug already approved by the FDA which was 100% effective, 100% cure rate, except when it wasn’t and it seemed to be causing the death of all the other kids, about 25% of the people who had this condition and because they were able to do genomic testing, they found that in the cluster of kids that were not responding positively to the medicine, there was a different set of genomes And then, almost as an act of God, they just decided to give the minority group that were all perishing, kids that came in that had that profile, half a dose of the approved medicine They all got well Then they said, “Well, maybe we were giving everybody too much,” so then they gave the half the dose to the majority group, and it didn’t help any of them They had to have the whole dose The point is this apparently simple solution was made possible by the exploration of the billions of genomes in the human body I spent $5 billion of your money (audience laughing) to sequence the human genome It now cost them $5000 a person to do the tests It will soon be down to 3500 and the hospital told me they expect it to be at a thousand less than five years So it’s an exciting time to be alive But we all know the world is full of many challenges There is too much inequality and instability It’s a terrible constraint on growth, and opportunity, and investment and there aren’t enough jobs being created, not even for college graduates across the world One of the reasons for the demonstrations of young people in Tahrir Square is that the Egyptian higher education system is producing 400,000 college graduates a year and nowhere near 400,000 jobs for college graduates Mexico, under the recently departed President Calderon, set up 140 tuition-free public universities, which last year produced, in a country whose population is about a little more than 30% of ours, 113,000 engineers Stunning achievement, but will there be enough jobs for them and will there be enough investment so that the poor will also find their path out of poverty? We have to do something about this There’s too much inequality and too much instability Look at what happened with the financial crisis You want some instability You want the possibility of failure Otherwise, the successes in the free market won’t be rewarded properly and invested in But if there’s too much instability and too much inequality, the whole thing shuts down The world we’re living in is clearly unsustainable We have serious Atlantic warming Serious melting this year There was a 90% of the area of Greenland, which has 8% of the world’s freshwater, 90% of it melted last summer, had some melt Typically for more than 100 years since we’ve been measuring, the maximum is 50% The oceans are becoming more acidic because they’re trying to absorb more carbon to help us stay in balance and it’s interrupting a lot of the fishing stocks of the world, and fish provide protein, the main source of protein for more than a billion people So for the last two or three years, it’s the first time in history that more fish had been grown on fish farming operations than caught naturally in the oceans, the lakes, the streams, the rivers of the world There is as yet no international conference saying what they can and cannot be fed, as a result of which we’re going to have bad consequences, the details of which we don’t yet know So the way we produce and consume energy and other local resources have put us on an unsustainable path to the future I don’t know how many of you saw the New York Times article

the last two weeks about how many Chinese parents are desperate to find a way to leave China because their children are all getting asthma and they’re sick, and how many who have the money to do so, put their children in schools where the athletic fields are covered with tents, these great balloon-like tents with serious air filters in them so the children can get what passes for outdoor exercise I could give you lots of other examples But the point is the world is a washed in too much inequality, and instability and unsustainability And finally, in this modern world where we can look at planets 120 million light years away and think that might be my great great grandchild’s home, where we can imagine further advances in the human genome and nanotechnology that I also spent a lot of your money on, (audience laughing) allowing all of us to have four physicals a year by just stepping into canisters that will measure us up and down and find all the malignancies before they can possibly be big enough to kill us I’ll make you a prediction Within 15 years, one of the great debates in medical practice will be when to zap out tumors because all of us have cancerous cells in our bodies all the time and our bodies just dispose of most of them So it’s an amazing time But what is really tearing the world up are the oldest divisions, the religious divisions, the political division Yesterday we read that there might be a new civil war in Iraq because finally the Sunnis, having rejected the extremism of Al Qaeda in Iraq, are now organizing around the old Baathist ideology and people who are there and they don’t think the Shia majority have been fair to them We just read today, this morning when I got up the story the Nigerian military virtually wiping out a village in northern Nigeria in their ongoing war against Boko Haram, the militant Muslim organization which feels that it’s people have not been fairly treated in the Confederation, which is Nigeria, and on, and on, and on You know all this But it is very interesting that in spite of all this globalization, in spite of our being thrown together, in spite of the opportunities that I see, in spite of the diversity I see in this crowd, we still see the world put at risk when things don’t work out so well in America for two young brothers from Chechnya who were given a chance to get an education and come here and apparently it didn’t work out so well, and so you had the Boston Marathon incident A young man who tried to blow up the car bomb in Times Square a couple of years ago, he and his wife both got university degrees in this country and were made to feel welcomed in it For a while, they had a good job, and a home, and a mortgage like all of us do when we start out And then it didn’t work out and he decided an appropriate response was to go back to Pakistan and learn how to make a bomb and take it to Times Square One of the things we learned in the genome is that, the study, is that all people are 99.5% the same Even the gender differences are rooted in just 0.5% of our genome We got people in this room today from all over the world and if you just look around, every difference you can see between somebody else and yourself is rooted in 1/2 of 1% of your genomic makeup, and yet, every one of us, even those of us who are fairly apolitical, spend 99.5% of our time worrying about that 1/2 of a percent of us that’s different Now we can all laugh about it I wish you were taller, or thinner, or faster If I’d had a four foot vertical jump, I might have had a different life (audience laughing) But the differences do matter That tiny bit of difference gave Albert Einstein

a brain bigger than most people imagine could be carried safely inside a human skull and he put it to pretty good use I could give you lots of other examples I can say that I was 99.5% the same as Mohandas Gandhi, but he had a pretty remarkable life with whatever was in that little 0.5% that was different On the other hand, most of the truly (chuckles) great people who had ever lived taught us how to connect the little bit of us that is different with the big part of us we have in common So you are going to live in a world where you have to figure out how to reconcile all these challenges with all the opportunities and I believe you will have no choice but to do public service, whether you’re in private life or not A thing that it will make a big difference for two reasons One There’s always a gap between what the private sector can produce and the government can provide that you need non-governmental groups to try to fill Two In the poorest countries systems have to be built and the richest countries’ systems have ossified and had to be reformed and very often, it can’t be done entirely from within So the new 21st-century mission for non-governmental organizations, the whole reason for being of our foundation is to figure out how to work with government and with the private sector to do things faster, cheaper, better, to break through the limits that the current arrangements impose on people all over the world But to do any of that as well as possible, it is necessary to think about what you’re doing and have some idea It seems to me that if you want to take service seriously, whether you want to be a political candidate or just a person who does right, there are four requirements You should be obsessively interested in people, especially people who are different from you You should wanna understand them You should wanna understand how they perceive the world and how they perceive what they need and what their dreams are Two You should care about principles about the end of all this What is the purpose of service? What’s the role of government? What’s the role of NGOs? How do you organize this in your mind? Why are you doing this? Three What are the policies that you believe will advance those purposes? And four Whether you’re running for anything or not, what are the politics of the situation? How are you gonna turn your good intentions into real changes? So I want to talk about people, purpose, policies and politics But to me, the most important thing is the first Most people get in real trouble and abuse power when they forget that the purpose of their power is not to impose their will on others, but to let other people be empowered to live their own lives better or as I always say, to have better stories So I wanna start with that People ask me all the time, “How in the world “did you ever get elected President? (chuckles) That’s a mystery to me too (audience laughing) Only two governors of small states have ever been elected and as I say when I was born in Arkansas at the end of World War II, I think our per capita income was 56% of the national average Only Mississippi was poor No one in my direct family had ever been to college My father was killed in a car wreck before I was born My mother went back to nursing school My grandparents raised me till I was four with a lot of help from my great uncle and his wife

People talk about that like it was a disadvantage It was actually probably the key to all my later success You can’t imagine life without a cell phone and a computer I was born to a (chuckles) dual family without a television, without even a private telephone line We were on what we call party lines You heard about all the snoops today? Your neighbors could just pick up the phone and listen to who you were chewing out (audience laughing) and you had to wait till your neighbor got off the phone So it was by conventional standards poor, and it was deeply segregated But in both the black and white communities, families were more coherent up and down the economic spectrum than they are today There were more two-parent households There was less divorce There was more character building, if you will, at home I have employed at one time or another four members of the Kearney family, an African-American family from a tiny town of a thousand in Southeast Arkansas There were 19 of them: 17 kids, a mom and dad The dad was a sharecropper The mother was a domestic 13 of the 17 kids got college degrees The other four did real well One of them joked that he made more than almost all of his college graduate siblings All of them had a first name that started with a J When I made the chairman of the public service commission in Arkansas, he graduated from Harvard in Harvard Law school One was my diarist in the White House One worked for me in the Attorney’s General’s office and another one I gave a big appointment to I always said as long as I got the Kearney family to vote for me, I couldn’t lose any election (audience laughing) They had a family reunion that included a stop in the White House when I was there and 15 of these 17 kids were still alive and so was the dad at 102 I say that because I could give you lots of other examples that people are not defined just by their per capita income and there are incredibly powerful, dignified people who manage to compose a life out of their poverty and from them we can learn how to help them and their children get out of poverty, and this is true all over the world My great grandfather whom I used to love and go and stay with, the longest living man in my (chuckles) family who lived to be 76, everybody since then, nobody’s made it as long as I have So I like to emulate my great-grandfather, but it seems impossible He was never out of overalls and hobnailed boots and he lived in an old house out in the woods in the country that was a wooden house, unpainted, built up off the ground You had to have a storm cellar in Arkansas because it was the turning the capital of America then It was a hole in the ground with a cot and an oil lantern I used to go down there very often accompanied by snakes that would slither in and out He was a very, very good man, as was my great-grandmother, a good woman I learned a lot from them, things that are still valuable to me today But most of the lessons I got from childhood, I got from my grandfather and my great uncle My grandfather in the Great Depression, to give you an idea of how different then and now was, even though a lot of you may be worried about student loan debt, and finding jobs, and all this In the Great Depression, 25% of Americans were out of work and my grandfather worked on an ice truck Back then refrigerators were called ice boxes and they actually took ice blocks and put them in part of the refrigerator and kept the rest of the food cold So my grandfather who weighed about 150 pounds

carried 200 pound blocks of ice on his back with thongs that he hooked under the ice and put it on his back So fast forward This is why stories are important 1976, I was running for attorney general of Arkansas I went back to this little town where I was born and I went to see this guy who’s a judge and he was an elected judge so he could be active in politics He said, “I have to be for you, “whether I wanted to or not I said, “Why? He said, “Because in the Depression when I was 10 years old, “your grandfather, who had no money himself, “still hired boys like me to ride on that ice truck, “one a day with him, and he’d pay us a quarter,” and we thought a quarter was all the money in the world He said, “As a matter of fact, “the first time I got paid “when your granddad gave me a quarter, “I asked him if I could instead have two dimes “and a nickel so I would feel richer walking home.” (audience laughing) And he said, “Walking home I started shaking “the coins in my pocket and one of the dimes fell out “into the grass by the sidewalk.” And he said, “I looked for that thing for an hour “and a half until I had to go home “It got dark, I never found it.” And he said, “I never go by that spot that I still don’t stop “to look for that dime.” (audience laughing) I say that because we take certain things for granted and I see that because it’s very important for you, if you want to do this work, to realize something I learned from my grandfather and from my uncle which is that everybody has some kind of story like that My uncle had a sixth grade education and 180 IQ, at least He was the smartest man in my family and was a fireman and a farmer I used to go out even after everybody moved to towns in Arkansas after the Depression People remember the Depression and so if they could afford it, keep an acre of land out in the country and grow as much of their own food as they could and I used to go out there when I was a kid and farm with them Then we’d have these meals and he was one of the funniest people I’ve ever seen, and his kids were funny I would sit there with them and laugh until I cried, just listen to him talk about ordinary people in our town: the guy that ran the grocery store, the bookstore, somebody that worked at the Factory that my aunt worked at Why am I telling you this? Because people ask me all the time, “Where did you learn to speak?, and I said, “I learned to speak by learning to listen.” In our family, nobody could afford a vacation There was one movie theater in our town It didn’t change movies very often My family had hunting, fishing, and dinner meals and the meals were a feast because people just told stories When you were a kid like me, you couldn’t tell a story unless you proved you could listen to one So somebody tell a story and then my uncle or my aunt would look to me “Do you understand that? I said, “I think so “What did you just hear?” Once you did that two or three times, then if you had something to tell, you could tell it But what I learned in this whole thing is that everybody has a story and everybody’s life has things about it that are inherently interesting and valuable to the rest of us, even though most people can’t get it out because they’re too self-conscious, or shy or whatever But the point is, in the beginning I learned that you can’t really speak unless you can first listen, not in a way that people can hear I see it today when I see a lot of these verbal spats going on here in Washington Whenever you see fit, wherever it’s coming from, ask yourself, “Did this person say that thing “to genuinely be heard “by people who disagree with him or her? Or, “Did this person say that thing in that way “because they wanted to be on television “or because they wanted to reassure their own crowd “that they were carrying the spear forward?” In a free society, if you want democracy to work

people have to be able to hear each other and whether someone can hear you depends in part on what you say, but maybe even more on how you say it and whether you have first listened to them So I learned all these stories When my great uncle was nearly 90, he could still remember the names of hunting dogs (chuckles) he had had in the 1930s: who sold him the dogs, the way he bargained for them, how they ran in the springtime when the cold and the frost lifted And to me, I could’ve been listening to Pavarotti sing because of the way he told the story and he made his life have meaning and interest So this per capita income was low and I’m not trying to romanticize poverty I would like everybody who gets rid of it That’s not what I’m trying to do I’m trying to get you not to belittle people who know less than you do, have less than you do, or less credential than you are There is a reason why the Jesuits have spent centuries now serving the poor There’s a reason why all the Scriptures of all the different faiths acknowledge that what we have in common in our soul is important and it helps me today when we try to help farmers in Rwanda and Malawi, to have heard the stories of people who seem to be poor, but in fact were rich when I was young Don’t ever romanticize poverty It is way overrated But don’t denigrate the people who live in it because there is a mountain of evidence that there is a lot of dignity there, and I saw those stories when I was young When I was a little older I moved to a town that was the polar opposite to the one I was born in Hot Springs was a National Park, the first land set aside under Andrew Jackson as a national reserve, before there were any national parks Thomas Jefferson sent a friend of his there to look at these hot sulfur springs to see what their properties were because they had people bathing in them since the 16th century when Hernando de Soto came there and thought he had discovered the fountain of youth When World War II ended and Eastern Europe was being taken over, a large number of people left and found their way to my little hometown So there was in the middle of Arkansas where the doctor running a restaurant who was from Czechoslovakia, with vibrant Greek Orthodox community with two synagogues, with the Muslims coming from Syria and elsewhere all in my little hometown So I saw a little microcosm of the world even though I was living in the segregated South with all of its problems I was at that time still trying to figure out what was going on and I was without a television since I was 10, but I still learned more from the stories of the kids I went to school with, the people I saw on the street and my teachers And I would just like to just give you a flavor (chuckles) of what it was like I had a science teacher and I’ve told this story many times, but it’s the most important thing I can tell you I had a science teacher in the eighth grade who was a retired coach and to put it charitably, he was not a handsome man (audience laughing) He was overweight, and his clothes were too tight, and he had coke-bottled thick glasses, and he smoked cheap cigars out of a plastic cigar holder which squinched his mouth up He had a beautiful wife who was a history teacher and she had a beautiful sister who was my geometry teacher So the family was there and they were terrific people But the old science teacher (chuckles) said

near the end of our course when I was 13 This was 53 years ago I remember this like it was yesterday He said, “Kids, “you’re not gonna remember anything I taught you in science “So if you don’t remember anything else, “you just remember this “Every morning I get up and I go into the bathroom, “put shaving cream on my face, “shave, wash the shaving cream off, “I look into the mirror and I say, “‘Vernon, you’re beautiful.’ (audience laughing) He said, “You gotta remember that “Everybody wants to believe they’re beautiful,” everybody, and he said, “If you remember that, “it’ll keep you out of trouble “and bring a lot of possibilities to your life.” 53 years later, that is what I remember about my science class (audience laughing) In my hometown all those years ago, 50 years ago, I met the first person I knew was gay He was a teacher It was unthinkable 50 years ago that he would come out, but all of his students knew and we loved him and there was a sort of practiced hypocrisy, at least in my hometown, about it that as long as you didn’t say, you would be accepted It was an interesting thing and it started half a century of thinking about identity in a way I had never thought about it before When I came to Georgetown, I was most influenced by the fact that for the first time in my life I was around students from everywhere, including places in America I’ve never been like New York My roommate at Georgetown, I thought, “Oh I’m going to liberal Georgetown “and I’m going to escape Arkansas which was (mumbles).” I was afraid vote for Barry Goldwater over Linda Johnson I get to my room in Loyola Hall, 225 Loyola, and there’s a Goldwater for President bumper sticker (audience laughing) on my door Everybody thought I would be a southern redneck I was for Johnson I thought, “Oh my god, I came all the way up here for this?” (audience laughing) My roommate was an Irish Catholic guy from Long Island whose father was a member of the conservative party and elected judge He actually thought Goldwater was a little too liberal (audience laughing) Fast-forward, I lived with that guy for four years I still talk to him all the time I’ll see him at the reunion He’s as good a person as I ever met in my life One day his politics came to conform with his private life Through a set of family misfortunes, his wife’s sister had a child with cerebral palsy and she couldn’t raise My friend and his wife took her in and raised her as their own She’s built a successful and pretty independent life When he was a pilot living in Orange County, California, their idea of a vacation was to go to Mexico and help poor people build their houses He called me one day when I was having my fight with the pre-tea party tea party (audience laughing) one night in ’95 and I was trying to decide to veto their budget and everybody’s said, “Oh, if you do this, they’ll kill you “They just won at Congress “You’ll be a one term-er.” One night this man, a book I might’ve judged by its cover, called me and he said, “Let me get this straight He said, “I’m an airline pilot with a good living “The budget the Congress proposes “wants to give me a tax cut “in return for which they would cut spending “on programs that help disabled kids like my daughter? I said, “Yeah, that’s it He said, “For example, he said, “my daughter’s best friend “who also has cerebral palsy, they go to school together, “her mother is a minimum-wage worker “who travelers one hour a day to work “and one hour a day home “on public transportation “Now as I understand this, Bill, “it’s gonna cut the transportation subsidies “so her bus ride will be more expensive “It’s gonna cut subsidies for “her child’s wheelchair and shoes,” and by the way, then, at least, children with cerebral palsy regularly had to get about six pairs of quite expensive shoes every year “They’re gonna take all that away to give me a tax cut?

I said, “That’s right “That’s what’s gonna happen He said, “Bill, that’s immoral “You can’t let it happen “You gotta veto that budget.” My friend’s Catholic values overcame his political upbringing His story overwhelmed the circumstances under which he lived I did and when I got elected President, I may have been the only Democrat he ever voted for, but (audience laughing) it was no longer the case He saw a live child he had taken to raise who had a friend who is just like his daughter, except she had no money, and he knew what would really happen So it wasn’t a theoretical discussion The story pierced his heart and changed his mind I could give you lots of other stories Father Hanser just celebrated his 75th birthday He actually took me to Howard Johnson’s for a hamburger when I was a freshman and asked me if I ever thought about becoming a Jesuit (audience laughing) I asked him if I had to become a Catholic first (audience laughing) (audience clapping) He said, “What do you mean? I said, “I’m a Southern Baptist “I’m not eligible (audience laughing) He said, “I’ve read your test papers “It’s not possible “You think like a Catholic.” (audience laughing) So we agreed it was only because of his overpowering skills as a professor that he had reworked my mind, but nonetheless I was who I was and I didn’t become a priest and I think life worked out pretty well for both of us (audience laughing) But I love the Jesuits for reasons that I don’t know would even be popular today There were two Hungarian professors who’d gone to the fourth grade together in a little town in Hungary One taught International Economics One Father Sebes later became the Dean of the School of Foreign Service and he taught world religion It’s a class of 200 students All non-Catholics took it It was affectionately called Buddhism for Baptists (audience laughing) At the end (chuckles) of the course, Father Sebes gave an oral exam in 12 languages He said, “If you don’t feel comfortable “writing this exam, “I’ll give you “an oral,” and he started reeling off the languages he would given oral in I thought, “You know, “I would like to be educated in a tradition that “used that much of my brain.” Father Zurini taught Economics He taught five classes of sophomore economics with 40 people is how I remember and you had to sit in an assigned seat Attendance was mandatory until Thanksgiving, after which you never had to come back, and if you did, you could sit wherever you want I am not making this story up (audience laughing) Five (mumbles) So flash forward, we’re at the end of the second semester, and I am walking down the hall with one of my classmates named Neil Grimaldi who later hated overseas people for my campaign So Grimaldi had Zurini, he said, “Can I come see you? “I’m worried about the exam And Zurini looked at him and said, “Well, what do you expect? “You’ve missed three classes.” He had, from the beginning of school through Thanksgiving, memorized every student and developed a system which would enable him to tell him which of the 200 were there and where they had been I couldn’t believe it For a long time I thought it was some sort of magic trick (audience laughing) So 10 years later when I was Governor, I came back to see Father Zurini and I was in his office I just ran into him, so he said, “Come up and have a talk,” so I’m in his office This woman called him who was a year older than me and asked him for a job reference He said, “What’s the job?, and he told her, he said, “Yes, send me the information “I’ll write you a job reference He hangs that phone and he said, “Do you remember her? I said, “Yes “I didn’t know her well, but I do He said, “You know, “she made a B the first semester “and a B plus the second sentence semester.” No computers So he’s got this card catalog stack with him,

this card deck, and he goes down to her class and pulls out her card and shows it to me and she made a B and B plus I wanted to be able to think 1/10th that well There was a big movement at the end of my time at Georgetown to liberalize the curriculum, which I think has been done (chuckles) You need to know, all my classmates and I were here, we did not have a single elective until the second semester of our junior year, no electives And because of the influence of these professors, I was opposed to changing it, which made me about as popular as you name it (audience laughing) with my fellow classmates Well, I became a lifetime friend of Father Sebes After he left Georgetown, he went to the Vatican and lived in a little room and did his own research When he died, I got a lovely letter from a young priest who found him who said he kept a roll of letters from his former students and mine, the letters I wrote to him when I was Governor were in there and he sent them to me, copies of them, and he sent me an account of his last days and the last picture taken of him in the Vatican I still have it in my files Why am I telling you this? Because when these boys, Sebes and Zurini, grew up and went into the order, their lives took different turns Sebes went to Asia because he spoke all these Asian languages and the Communist Chinese didn’t like it that he was doing his missionary work They put him in a four by four foot hole and he lost a lot of his stomach So when he came out, needless to say he was pretty anti-Communist So he thought the Vietnam War was a great deal and he knew I thought it was a terrible mistake He looked to me one day and he said, because of all these fights on campus, he said, “We have these terrible disagreements, “but we will be friends (audience laughing) I said, “Why? He said, “Because we have all the same enemies.” (chuckles) (audience laughing) How weird is that? (audience laughing) Why am I telling you this? Why am I telling you this? Because as you wander through life, if you just pay attention, you’ll be amazed how many encounters like that you can have and it will serve you well The thing that bothers me about modern politics is that we’d made all this progress, less racist, and sexist, and homophobic than we used to be We just have one remaining bigotry in America We just don’t want to be around anybody who disagrees with us You’re laughing, but it’s true I mean the people are organizing massive living patterns in this country around being with somebody that agrees with them You don’t believe me, read the Big Sort by Bill Bishop First, in 1976, when President Carter and President Ford had a very close election, only 20% of America’s counties voted for either one of them by more than 20 points, so 1976 28 years later in 2004 when now Secretary of State John Cary and President Bush had a close election and Bush’s reelection was the narrowest marginal victory for a reelected president since Woodrow Wilson since 1916 Nonetheless, 48% of America’s counties voted for one or the other of them by more than 20% So Americans are not hearing enough stories from other people and it’s a big mistake If we had all the time in the world I could keep you here till tomorrow morning telling you these stories When I was in Oxford, I took myself all the way to Russia even though I didn’t speak Russian, couldn’t even reads Cyrillic script and because I had a friend there, I wound up at Lumumba University, which the Russians and Soviets had built for Third World That’s what the called them then students I was with Nigerian students in the first week of 1970

when their bloody Civil War which killed millions of people ended The major contesting tribes were the Igbos and the Yorubas and there were students there from both tribes whose families were fighting each other back home There had been no war when they came there Over the radio they announced the war ended and I saw people crying at each others arms whose families were back home killing each other It struck me that most of the things we kill each other over are not worth it and whenever I ask myself, “Is this worth it?,” I think about those young people who were basically like put in a test tube and pushed away from their country because they could still see and hear each other So as we go along, and we talk about the politics of it, I’ll tell you some more about what happened and what I learned through stories But I hope you will remember this: the purpose of service is to help other people, not to make you feel good about yourself, although you will, not to impose everything you think should be done on other people, but to create a world where we can all live together because it’s so interdependent If we don’t, the consequences to us, to our families, to our future will be adverse and severe Everyplace in the world people are trying to cooperate, they’re doing pretty well Everyplace in the world, people elevate our differences over our common humanity, everyplace in the world where we can no longer hear what people who are different from us are saying, where our ears are closed and our minds more closed, there is trouble So do I think it matters what the purpose is there are to your politics, and what policies you adopt, and how you conduct politics in or out of the political arena? Oh, I think all that matters But you have a much better chance of living both a successful and a rewarding life of service if you begin by finding something to learn from everybody you run into if you begin by believing there is a certain inherent dignity to people who will never be on television, never be in a newspaper article, or just the statistic to most people who talk about politics, so I will close with one last story When I was working on that tsunami with first President Bush, I got very attached to China, Indonesia, and to the Maldives and to Sri Lanka and the UN asked me to stay on for two more years, and so I did One of the ways that I (chuckles) disappointed people is that I couldn’t immediately solve the housing problem, just like it’s a problem for Haiti, just like there’s some people in the Katrina area who don’t have homes back again It is always the hardest thing in any natural disaster So we were gonna miss a deadline on the Aceh in Indonesia and the housing, and I said, “I got to go there and tell them face-to-face.” I want them to know we haven’t forgotten about them and when we’re gonna do this, so we went to the biggest camp They were probably, I don’t know, by then still 10, 12, 15,000 people in this camp Every one of these camps had an elected president, so I arrived at the camp The president is there, his wife was there, just a simple man who was trusted by other people to be the president of the camp His son was there The boy I still believe is the single most beautiful child I have ever seen in my life, this Indonesian boy He was breathtaking He was just luminous and so I asked my interpreter who had been a very interesting young Indonesian woman who gave up her job on television, a promising career on television, just to be an interpreter to help until her country was put back together We were walking down the way

after I meet the president, and his, wife and son, and I said, “I believe that’s the best looking boy “I’ve ever seen in my life “He’s just gorgeous She said, “Yes, he’s very beautiful.” Before the tsunami, he had nine brothers and sisters and they’re all gone Now here is what I observed I never said a word to them about it But pretty soon the boy and his mother left and this man who had lost nine of his 10 children, a man with no formal education, a man who’d never been more than a few miles away from his home his entire life, led me through his camp and every place, all he ever talked about was what the people there needed He knew them He knew their stories and he eased his own pain by advancing their lives It was one of the most astonishing examples of service I have ever seen And then we get to the end of this tour and because they knew about my foundation’s work and healthcare, they saved the clinic till last So we got to the clinic, we’re talking about health care, and all of a sudden the president of the camp’s wife shows up again with her son, but she’s holding a baby The lady starts talking and the interpreter says, “What she’s telling you is “that they’re very grateful that you’ve come to the camp “and listened to their concerns,” this is the news, this is the most recently born baby in this camp, “and we want you to name the baby “because we appreciate your coming.” She went on to say that in their culture when a woman had a baby, she got to go to bed for 40 days without getting up I thought, “Boy, if that gets out in America, “we’re all toast.” (audience laughing) But anyway, (chuckles) she So that’s why the mother didn’t come herself She was in her period of reclining So I looked at the mother and I said, “Do you have a word in your language for new beginning?,” and I was afraid it might cause her to cry because she’d lost nine of her children So the young woman interpreted for me and she said this, and she got this huge smile on her face, and she said, “Oh, yes “It’s lucky for you that in our language, unlike English, “the word dawn, D-A-W-N, the word for dawn, “is a boys name, not a girls name “We will need this way, Dawn, the woman said, “and he will be the symbol “of our new beginning.” Have you ever met anybody in any position of importance with any level of wealth who could’ve dealt with the loss of nine of her 10 children with more dignity and honor and other oriented-ness? The stories, if you want to serve, you have to begin with the stories Thank you very much (audience laughing) – Well thank you President Clinton for your stories this morning, encouraging us to listen by sharing some of those moving stories was particularly compelling to me We have a few questions from the audience here at Georgetown and also back in Little Rock at your school, so we’ll start with a question from a student here at Georgetown, jip-sul kuh-bran Sorry if I mispronounce any of your names If you’re a professor at Georgetown, what class would you teach and why? – Oh I would like to teach a class in International Economics and Politics because I believe that it’s very important that every person in your generation have a worldview Whether you are a conservative, or a liberal, or Republican, or Democrat, or Independent, or you come from another country and you are in a different political tradition, we need a common understanding

of what is the nature of the modern world What are its biggest opportunities? What are its biggest challenges? What evidence do we have about how best we can deal with them? So that’s what I would teach now Although when I was in Georgetown, I think my favorite course was a course in Great Ideas of the Western World, which was taught by a Palestinian professor It was a two-hour seminar We met once a week and there were 14 students, 14 weeks, 14 books Every student got a book and every seminar started off with a 10- minute presentation by the student If you talk more than 10 minutes, he will cut you off and say, “You obviously didn’t understand the book “or you could’ve explained it in 10 minutes.” Though I love that, but if I were Professor now, that’s what I would teach – All right, and the second question is from Little Rock, from your school, from Andre Bro I’m a first-year student at your school This summer, I’ll be doing my service project in Haiti I have a two-part question First, recognizing your support of building Haiti’s textile economy, how would you defend against criticism that this approach benefits American interests more than Haitian interests? And second, will you come visit me? (audience laughing) – Well, the answer to the second question is I go once a month, so I’ll doubtless be there when the student is there, and I’d be happy to see her or him You didn’t say what was the name On the textile front, I disagree with that For decades, Haiti had all these textile jobs They were just cut-and-sew jobs because labor was cheap This is going to be different This Korean company, SAE-A, which is a huge complex, is moving the first textile mill the country has ever had whether this company stays or goes Now they will have the capacity to produce their own clothing They never have had it in the history of the country They’re doing it because Haiti has duty-free access to the United States and because they believe we have a chance to do it You can’t turn down the potential of 20,000 jobs if you can get it and you think they’re gonna make a living wage in an environmentally safe way So I don’t think that this aids the American economy anymore than any other clothing imports do It’s a big difference for Haiti because now they’ll have the potential to develop their own indigenous clothing operation because this will be their first textile mill – The third question comes from a Georgetown student, Amy Tenant Which public policy instituted during your tenure are you most proud of? – That’s hard to answer I love AmeriCorps, the National Service program and I think it should be bigger and I think more people should have a chance to do it But I think that before the recession, welfare reform did way more good than harm, even though there was some things in it that the Republican Congress insisted on I thought were not good Though the problem with the welfare reform law was we capped payments to states, so what they were getting in February of ’94 when the welfare rolls were an all-time high When they dropped 60% when I was President, the states had a lot of money which they were supposed to put into education, and training, and other things What happened is after I left office, a lot of them were permitted to stop spending that money on poor people which I think was a terrible mistake, but I’m still very proud that we did it But I’m most proud I think of the economic policy that we began with the passage by one vote in both Houses of my economic plan of ’93 because that drove down interest rates, drove up investment, accelerated new jobs particularly in technology, and most important of all to me, we had like 30% more jobs in my years, 40% more than in President Reagan’s term, but we had 100 times as many people move from poverty to the middle class

It’s the only period of shared prosperity we’ve had in the last 35 years and I was very proud of that and it still means a lot to me because I still have people come up to me and tell me that they worked their way from welfare into a good solid job and they raised their children to have a better life, and that’s still the most important thing to me It’s gone surprisingly little notice and surprisingly little academic analysis how come the economic path we chose and the economic path chosen by my predecessors Both Bush administration, they had recession, so poverty increased, so I don’t count that It’s just Reagan’s years plus mine, we had 100 times as many people move from poverty into the middle class That’s what I’m really proud of We gave people a chance to make their own stories – So you were to become an International Economics Professor at Georgetown, would that be your path of research? – If I was what? – If you were to become the International Economics Professor at Georgetown, would that be your path of research contribution to academia? – No (audience laughing) No because I know the story and because it wouldn’t be as trusted I’d rather have somebody else do it and figure out why then have somebody else do it, and disagree with them, and “You now do it.” I shouldn’t be It would be too self-serving for me to do it Now if I were here in my research, I would be focused on what we could do to increase the level of employee growth around the world because one of the real problems of having IT driven growth, and believe me I think it’s been a godsend When we rebuilt the fishing industry in Indonesia and Sri Lanka and we put all these men and women back in fishing boats, we gave them cell phones for the first time and their incomes averaged at 30% increase cause they could find out what the real price of fish was everyday and no one could lie to them anymore We started rebuilding Haiti and 90% of the people were un-banked and the banks didn’t want to fool with them because they could make all the money they needed because 19% of Haiti’s income every year is from remittances from the United States, and Canada, and Bermuda, and Dominican Republic, and France So the banks can just charge a fee to convert those currency into gourdes and they won’t have to worry about serving poor folks, making loans to little businesses So, I would like to talk about things like that How we started a small business loan program there and how we started home mortgage program there We need the best minds we can to think about how we’re going to create more jobs because what I was gonna say is in spite of all these joys of IT, they do make everybody so much more productive that every year, not just in manufacturing but in other things, you can do more with fewer people So how are we going to find sustainable employment in both poor countries, rich countries and in the rising countries? How are we going to do this and how are we gonna make the adjustments for different cultures, and different possibilities, and different levels of natural resources? I think there’s way too little research on that and we all When I got elected President, I had been Governor of a state which never had an unemployment rate below the national average until I ran for President, ironically In that year, we were first or second job growth every month, but we worked 10 years to rejigger the economy The American people need some sense of how we’re gonna do this and so to people throughout the world we don’t know enough to know how these new realities are different from what we did in the 90s, but I’m quite sure that if I did everything we did then, it wouldn’t produce jobs we need I have some ideas, but I think we should do more – Another question from a student here at Georgetown is from Salvador Rosas During your time as president in 1996, you passed the Immigration Reform Act What do you believe it will take for us to pass a comprehensive Immigration Reform that would help solve current problems with our immigration system? – Well, you only have two obstacles really Will there be a filibuster in the Senate and will the Speaker of the House allow any bill that passes the Senate

to be voted on the House floor if a majority of the Republicans are not for it That had been their policy more or less since Newt Gingrich was speaker and it was formalized under Dennis Hastert But John Boehner deserves a lot of credit He varied from that policy three times this year already, including to allow the House to vote on the Violence Against Women Act, which did pass by a day bipartisan majority, but not by a majority within the Republican caucus So I think they’re gonna pass this immigration reform I think, and I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t get 70 votes in the Senate, because just the pure demographics of it The Republicans I think know they can’t be a national party if they lose 72, 75% of the Latino vote three or four more times The numbers are only gonna get bigger and so I think the same thing is true of Asians When we had a huge influx of Asian immigrants, a lot of the Vietnamese were a bit militantly anti-Communist and came here and were inclined to vote Republican because they perceived that the Republicans were more anti-Communist and the Democrats and that the Democrats had driven the country’s disengagement from Vietnam even though President Ford was in office when the last troops were withdrawn All of that’s changed over all this immigration business so that now the Democrats tend to get a big majority of the Asian vote too and they’re growing like crazy So I think just for sheer demographic reasons, we’re gonna get it Also keep in mind, there are economic imperatives here The United States, one of the things that gives me hope about our economy is that we are younger than Europe We are younger than Japan We are not resistant to immigrants, historically Only Ireland is younger than we are Thanks to the Catholics, they still got a high birthrate (audience laughing) By the way, and now that you’re laughing, and you should know that the Irish were very open to immigration There was a huge variety of immigrants in Ireland in their boom years and a lot of those folks went home, mostly to central Europe But they’ll come back again if things pick up again, so this is an economic imperative for us I do believe it will pass I think it is possible, depending on the details of the past, the citizenship, I think it’s possible that there won’t be a majority of the Republican House caucus for it and then they’ll have to decide whether to let it come to the floor or not, but I really think this will pass – The next question is also from a Georgetown student, Jessica Albert from Barker, Colorado What was your motivation for starting the Clinton Foundation and what distinguishes it in your mind from other humanitarian initiatives? – Well I started the foundation with a kind of a It wasn’t a vague notion I had a very clear notion, but I didn’t have the details filled in I knew when I left office I did not want to spend most of my time just talking about current political issues or talking about my record or legacy I wanted to spend time on issues I had cared a lot about as President where I could still have an impact Now there are a lot of things I care about as President, but I have relatively small impact, like will there be peace between the Palestinians and Israelis I have spent a fair amount of time in the Middle East since I left office I still keep contacts there I do what I can, but that is more the province of governments as facilitators in the case of the United States, but also what the leaders of those countries and the people of those countries want to do So it would be foolish I think for me to just be one more of the voices saying that, believe me they (chuckles) all know what I think about it, but it doesn’t matter I don’t have the position anymore to have as much impact But in all these other things, I do, so what it did was I started out with that in mind and then

I began working with Nelson Mandela in AIDS when there was no global fund on HTB and malaria There was no PEPFAR program The United States when I left off has been providing about I think 28% of all the money that we all were spending to fight AIDS and it was a pittance, and so we were trying to raise more money From there I got into being asked to deal with the systematics challenges facing the Caribbean, which then had the second fastest growth rate of AIDS in the world after Africa and everything else just kind of fell into place after that A few years later, I got interested in whether One of my staff members suggested to me we ought to have a meeting like the Davos meeting at the opening of the UN because people could come and meet with the people who’d come from the UN and leaders of business and all of that I said, “Who would pay to come to New York “during the UN when its already has traffic in the world? I said, “I got a bright idea “We’ll make it even harder for them I’ll say, “If you come to our meeting, “you have to promise to do something “to help somebody somewhere “and you gotta keep the promise if you wanna come back.” The first meeting of this kind ever where we ask people to meet with different people and make commitments and it’s worked out pretty well, but it was a wild leap These things have come up and then I deliberately took up the cause of childhood obesity cause I think it’s a public health problem in the country So I tried to chart these programs within the framework of my record and my passions as President where I could still have an impact and have the discipline to try to stop doing things when I thought I could have an impact and turned out not to work so that we just keep trying to measure for impact and do that – And final question is from another student at your school in Little Rock and it ties very nicely back to the theme of your talk today Nate Kennedy asks, I’ve heard you say that, and we heard you again today also say this, that the last remaining widespread bigotry is toward those with whom we have ideological differences What can we do to bring people together? – Well, it’s very interesting I’ll never forget I had a very interesting encounter when I was attempting to change the Pentagon policy on gays in the military 20 years ago and everybody knows we failed with it Most people don’t know what really happened or what it was designed to do, but that’s not important now There was a survey that came out on this issue and it said that in the population of the United States as it existed in 1993, which is very different from now, we’re much more diverse now in every way than we were then, the public was about evenly divided and I had pushed it to where in this survey it was 48 to 45 for my position on allowing people to serve without regard to sexual orientation But it was a political loser because the 45 who disagreed with me, 33% of them were intensely opposed and only 16% of the people who were for me were intensely for it So the real political vote was 33 against 16 for and that’s the problem that my friends who are trying to pass this gun legislation are having I don’t agree with them anymore, but before when I passed an assault weapons ban that had a 10-bullet ammunition on them, and it did just fine and it was a sick day for me when it was allowed to expire in 1994 But what happened in the Congressional elections of ’94 was that the people who were for what I did, the majority said, “Thank you very much “I think I’ll vote on something else.” The people who were against it said, “I’m gonna kill you “I wouldn’t vote for you if you “were the last candidate on earth.” So that the fact that we had majority support didn’t amount to anything It’s always the intensity of support that you have to measure So that’s like when people say, “Russia’s 90% support for this “How could the most against it?” Because they all believed that the opposition is more

heated and I think they’re wrong this time, by the way You know the old story about it The problem with the cat that sits on a hot stove is that that cat will never sit on a hot stove again, but also it will never sit on a cold stove I think this is a cold stove and we could do this, this background check business, but that’s what the problem is in a way I didn’t answer, what was it? – [Clara] But in terms of (audience laughing) – I didn’t answer your question – So in term How then do you engage that intensity of opposition and how do you – I was there when he showed his first signs of dementia What, what? (audience laughing) – How do you then engage that intensity of opposition? – Well here’s what I think you have to do First of all you got to realize, for the legitimate differences, let’s say over gun control, basically it’s an urban-rural deal There are some people you can’t reach But if you live in a city, you’re way better off and you think you need protection in your home? You’re way better off with a shotgun than an assault weapon Trust me (chuckles), it’s not even close So this is mostly a rural-urban deal Do you know Senator Murkowski talking about how in the far reaches of Alaska, if somebody wants to sell a gun to their next-door neighbor, how could you possibly ask for a background check? Keep in mind the Constitution set Congress up this way so that rural states have disproportionate influence in the United States Senate cause every state gets two senators So I just think they need to keep talking about it I think they can do that I think the President having these two dinners with the Republican senators is a good thing I think the President meeting with the women senators was a good thing I read the other day an article saying that in one of these dinners it would seem too stilted cause everybody had something they wanted to say to him and so it took the whole two hours they had set aside for the dinner But I spent (mumbles) endless hours just to listen to the people and just digging, and digging, and digging It doesn’t always work I mean one of the reasons we’re in a mess we’re in in the Middle East today is that I spent eight years listening and I proposed a peace proposal when Israel said yes and Arafat wouldn’t say yes or no, even though he told me he was going to, and it was the most colossal political error of my lifetime and a lot has flowed out of this One of the reasons that we’re still stuck is that the mi-ser-ah-bahs for whom I have a lot of respect said he wanted a settlement freeze So Hillary and other people went out and got a settlement freeze for 10 months It was a big deal This government sends his whole base to support with the West Bank sellers and they wouldn’t talk to them They waited until the 10 months was over and then he said, “Now give me another 10-month freeze “and maybe I will talk to him.” Bad move, and so you just It doesn’t always work Second thing I want to tell you if you get into politics, nothing lasts forever It’s a human creation So people come to me all the time and say, “Weren’t you sick that President Bush reversed “your economic policies and we went from “surplus to as far as the eye could see “to doubling the debt? And I say, “Yeah (chuckles), it made me sick, “but the American people made it possible.” I’m constantly amazed when people vote and then they’re surprised that people they vote for do what they promised to do It wasn’t like he made a secret of what he was gonna do That’s the other thing I want to tell you Most politicians actually do try to do what they say they’re gonna do, which should be the basis for this kind of communication But I just don’t know how much these people would talk and it may not be possible, but I just know this Look at where America has come back San Diego, the human genome center of America Orlando, the computer simulation center of America Even in Cleveland with all that trouble, the Cleveland clinic and the community college are training the hardest unemployed population we have, middle age non-college educated people

to do jobs that will grow in the health care industry whatever happens and however the health care bill is implemented You just look around the country The places which are doing well are places where there’s creative cooperation One of the problems these people have in Washington today is that the Congressional districts are drawn so that the most liberal and the most conservative of our members in Congress have to worry far more about being pure and being defeated by a primary challenge, than losing a general election because they did not work with people from the other side to get things done So that the political reality in a lot of these House districts is very different than the national political reality than the screaming hunger of the American people to see people make honorable compromises and get the show on the road But my advice is you can’t get tired of listening You just have to keep coming at people You have to figure out where they’re coming from, what their motives are, what their interests are When I was at all these peace deals I tried to work out, I never argued so much about what I thought was right or wrong as I did about why I thought it was in their interest to take it and there’s no easy answer here, but disengagement is a recipe for failure So my view is you just gotta get it You just can’t get tired of just reaching out and bowling ahead with it – Wonderful, two final words First, audience here in Gaston, please stay here until President Clinton has departed and finally, help me in thanking President Clinton for joining us today (audience applauding)